Forty migrant workers have been protesting in Castelnuovo Scrivia (in Piedmont, in the district of Alessandria) since June 22.
The workers, who originally came from Morocco and were employed for the harvesting of zucchini, pumpkins and other seasonal products at the agricultural firm Lazzaro, had been reportedly working 14-hour days, and were being paid 1 euro per hour. Part of their pay was also being deducted as “dues” towards their immigration documents. They were paid under the table and lacked even the most elementary union rights, a situation that unionist and activist Antonio Olivieri defined as “appalling and unprecedented.” When their employer stopped paying even that meager salary, the workers crossed their arms and went on strike. Consequently, they held a permanent rally at the farm, under a banner that read “No exploitation, no slavery”.
The intervention of police did not improve the situation; while certifying the patent labor violations, the police also certified the undocumented status of some of the workers, which will lead to their expulsion. An instance of appeal has been presented by Lorenzo Trucco, an attorney of the ASGI Association (Association of Juridical Studies on Migration), asking that a legal permit be granted to them, given their status as victims of slavery. Tension escalated further when the protesting workers tried to block a loading truck on June 28. As a result, 35 people were denounced for aggression, including 7 Italians (some unionists and activist among them) and 28 migrants.
If this situation seems to be the symptom of more wide-spread exploitation, involving many owners and firms in the zone of Alessandria, it has also drawn the attention of several political subjects, including the Moroccan Community in Italy, union locals such as the CGIL In Pavia and CISL from Novara (two nearby towns), while the leader of PRC Paolo Ferrero visited the rally.
Meanwhile, an agreement seems to have been reached under the mediation of the Provincial authorities, leading to the regularization of the 26 workers that have immigration papers and to the payment of due wages. The fate of the 13 undocumented migrants, however, is still uncertain. On July 10, after 17 days of struggle, the permanent rally has been dismantled; however, the workers and the activists supporting them will continue to meet in order to keep attention at a peak, not only on this case but on the whole sector and in the entire province.
More sources here.